HALIBURTON, SUSANNA LUCY ANNE (Weldon) (both her baptismal and burial records spell her first name Sussanah), ceramics collector; baptized 2 June 1817 in Windsor, N.S., daughter of Thomas Chandler Haliburton* and Louisa Neville; m. there 16 Aug. 1848 John Wesley Weldon, and they had one child; d. 11 Sept. 1899 in Halifax.
Susanna Lucy Anne Haliburton, the eldest of Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s 11 children, came from an established Nova Scotia family. From her father, the celebrated author and judge, she inherited an interest in family and local history. She was an amateur artist, of slender talent: six wash drawings depicting views of Windsor, attributed to her, are in the John Ross Robertson Collection at the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library.
In 1848 Susanna married John Wesley Weldon, a lawyer from New Brunswick, whose first wife, Frances Chandler Upham, had died four years earlier, leaving one child. Weldon practised law in Richibucto, N.B. He had been a member of the Legislative Assembly for Kent County since 1827 and speaker since 1843. The couple’s only child, a son, Haliburton, was born in 1849. The family lived in Richibucto and Saint John before moving to Fredericton in 1865, when John Weldon was appointed to the Supreme Court of New Brunswick. Shortly after her husband’s death in 1885, Mrs Weldon moved to Halifax, where she lived for the rest of her life.
In the 1860s Mrs Weldon had started collecting old china. In her manuscript catalogue, “Specimens of China Brought to the Colonies by the early settlers particularly the Loyalists,” she wrote that her original intention “was to save from destruction some specimens of the China brought to the country by the Loyalists, and to place them in the first College in British North America established by Royal Charter since their landing” (King’s College, Windsor, N.S.). She added, “It is rather a remarkable fact, that in the hazardous departure of these Refugees, though obliged in many cases to leave their books, plate, and even clothing; still the bowl in which their children were baptized, or some valuable articles of glass or porcelain was always saved, and it is believed their descendants will place some value on these slight memorials of an ancestry worthy to be held in all honor.”
Socially well placed to form such a collection, Mrs Weldon named as her sources 133 families, largely those of military and civilian officials. She was interested in provenance, not in ceramic identification. The notes in her catalogue are sometimes discursive on the family history of the donors, but her comments on the pieces themselves are brief, limited to such descriptions as “old dish” or “rare & remarkable vase.” The collection consists mainly of English wares of the period 1760 to 1840 and Chinese export porcelain dating from about 1610 to 1800. Their condition and aesthetic quality vary, as might be expected in a collection acquired by donation.
In 1873 the Weldons’ son, described by the King’s College Record as “a young barrister of great promise,” died shortly after his graduation from the college. As a memorial to him, Mrs Weldon presented 363 specimens, which she called “The History of a People Told in China,” to the museum of King’s College on 18 May 1880, “the 97th anniversary of the landing of the Loyalists in Saint John, N.B.” Today this collection is housed in the library of the University of King’s College, now located in Halifax. Approximately one hundred pieces, which were not given to King’s, are on display in Haliburton House, Windsor.
The Weldon china collection, probably the oldest formed in Canada, is significant because it was assembled during a period when there were few Canadian collectors. Our knowledge of the ceramics used in Canada derives largely from archaeological sources, merchants’ records, newspaper advertisements, and inventories of estates rather than from documented examples. Mrs Weldon supplied such documentation for her collection.
Mrs Weldon’s manuscript catalogue of her collection is in the Univ. of King’s College Library (Halifax). It was published as Specimens of china brought to the colonies by the early settlers, particularly the loyalists . . . (Fredericton, 1880).
PANS, Churches, Christ Church (Windsor, N.S.), reg. of baptisms, marriages, and burials (mfm.). Landmarks of Canada: what art has done for Canadian history . . . (2v., Toronto, 1917–21), nos.2185, 2189, 2194, 2202, 2212–13. Florence Anslow, The Haliburton Memorial Museum (Windsor, ). Lawrence, Judges of N.B. (Stockton and Raymond), 503–5. Marie Elwood, “The Weldon collection,” Canadian Collector, 18 (1983), no.4: 26–29; no.5: 20–27; no.6: 53–58; 19 (1984), no.1: 36–42. King’s College Record (Windsor), 27 (1906): 62.